After bidding farewell to Nashville seven years ago to focus on fatherhood, country's one-time king, Garth Brooks, told reporters Saturday he’s back to battle the Keith Urbans of the genre with a new single and a new greatest hits collection.
"Sure I'm scared to death – I'm rusty and I've seen these young guys," said Brooks. "But I'm a competitor and when it's game day you start competing."
Brooks, 45, who was the fastest-selling solo artist in history when he traded in the music scene for his Oklahoma farm, showed off a trim new physique in a maroon shirt and tight blue jeans at the Nashville press conference and joked that he had to slim down to measure up.
"Keith Urban is a beautiful guy, and he's just one of about 50 guys out there I'll have to face this fall so if you don't bring your A game you're going to get run over," he said. Referring to his wife, fellow country star Trisha Yearwood (whom he wed in 2005
), he added, "And I'm Mr. Yearwood now so I want to make her proud."
Despite the new music (the first single "More than a Memory," one of four new songs on the forthcoming The Ultimate Hits
, will be out Aug. 27), Brooks has no plans to tour, saying, "We'll go back to what I was doing before and sit on our butts for a while,” after his promo work for the new album is complete.
When Brooks announced he was bowing out of touring and recording in 2000, he said he wouldn’t return until daughters Taylor, 15, August, 13, and Allie, 11 (with ex-wife, Sandy), were out of school – and he says he's still sticking to that.
"My kids know that what I feel when I play is not one tenth of what I feel when I watch them play," he said. "I am where I want to be and knowing that the future might involve getting to do this again on a full scale when they're on their own and me and Miss Yearwood can tour together, that's pretty good."